A fall railway was supposed to help people escape poverty and homelessness.
Instead, it’s a life-changing experience for many in China.
CBC News has learned some of those stories.
The railway service, which runs on a 1,200-kilometre line along the Chinese border with Tibet, was shut down after the Chinese government banned the construction of the new railway.
The line was set to be opened this year.
But as of this month, the new line has not been built.
The railway was designed by Chinese engineer Zhang Hongjie and was meant to be used for transportation of people between Tibet and Xinjiang, China’s far east.
Zhang says the idea was to open the railway in 2022 and to have it open by 2021, but the government decided it would take longer to build the new route.
“In a sense, it was an experiment, a test run,” Zhang said.
“We didn’t expect it to go as smoothly as it has gone.”
It took Zhang a long time to figure out why the railway was closed.
“There was no clear explanation, and I was very confused.
Why would they shut it down?”
Zhang said he eventually went to the China Railway Engineering Corp. in Chengdu, China, where he learned it was due to a power failure.
He contacted the company to ask why the train service had been shut down and the engineers explained the reasons.
Zhang told CBC News he found out the following day he was laid off from his job at the company.
He is now unemployed and now relying on public transportation.
“I still had a job, so I was just going to try to find another job,” he said.
The train service was not the only one to be shut down.
Other parts of the railway service are closed, too, including the section that connects Tibet to the Xinjiang region.
“They have shut down all of the tracks.
They have shut the railways.
The roads, all of them have been closed, because they have no electricity, no water,” said a local resident surnamed Wang, who said he had to borrow money to pay for a taxi and bus to get to his job.
A local official surnamed Yang said many residents in his area were forced to use public transportation because the train services were closed.
“Many people, including mine, are using public transportation to get from the train station to their home,” he told CBC.
The Chinese government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“It is a major inconvenience for many people,” Zhang added.
“The Chinese railway company, as a matter of fact, did not tell us what the situation was like.
I think it is because of the power failure, but it is not clear.
We don’t know what’s happening with the power,” Zhang explained.”
We are all worried, we are very worried,” he added.
“I think it’s because the government has closed the railway.
They don’t want to lose any passengers.
We’re all worried.”
In an effort to ease the suffering, China has put a plan to build a railway service along the border with India that will open in 2021.